Joseph Smith

    Prophet of God

    Power to Seal on Earth and in Heaven

    The House of the Lord


    God "has promised us great things; yea, even a visit from the heavens," Joseph Smith prophesied in 1833. 1 Three years later on Easter Sunday, the resurrected Savior appeared to the Prophet in the Kirtland Temple and announced, "I am he who liveth, I am he who was slain; I am your advocate 2 with the Father." 3

    "After this vision closed, the heavens were again opened" and at the Lord's direction the ancient prophets Moses, 4 Elias, 5 and Elijah 6 appeared, one by one, to the Prophet Joseph and Oliver Cowdery and committed the "keys of this dispensation" 7 to carry forward "ordinances 8 instituted in the heavens before the foundation of the world." 9

    With these keys, the "power to seal on earth and in heaven," 10 we can be united with our Father in Heaven as families for eternity and fulfill the promise "to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the children to the fathers." 11


    Joseph Smith Quotes

    The spirit, power, and calling of Elijah is, that ye have power to hold the key of the revelation, ordinances, oracles, powers and endowments of the fullness of the Melchizedek Priesthood and of the kingdom of God on the earth; and to receive, obtain, and perform all the ordinances belonging to the kingdom of God, even unto the turning of the hearts of the fathers unto the children, and the hearts of the children unto the fathers, even those who are in heaven. (History of the Church, 6:251; spelling modernized.)

    The doctrine or sealing power of Elijah is as follows: If you have power to seal on earth and in heaven, then we should be wise. The first thing you do, go and seal on earth your sons and daughters unto yourself, and yourself unto your fathers in eternal glory. (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith (1976), 340.)

    This is the spirit of Elijah, that we redeem our dead, and connect ourselves with our fathers which are in heaven, and seal up our dead to come forth in the first resurrection; and here we want the power of Elijah to seal those who dwell on earth to those who dwell in heaven. (History of the Church, 6:252.)


    Joseph Fielding Smith, 10th President of the Church, 1970–1972 

    The Lord has called upon us to look after our dead, to seek out their genealogy. This spirit has gone forth, the keys that were bestowed by Elijah are here, and the hearts of the children have turned to their fathers. One of the greatest evidences of the truth of the story told by the Prophet Joseph Smith that Elijah came to him and Oliver Cowdery is the fact that people who are not connected with this Church, who have no sympathy perhaps with the Church, are gathering the records of the dead. Their hearts have turned to the fathers. (In Conference Report, Apr. 1934, 19–20.)

    Joseph Fielding Smith, 10th President of the Church, 1970–1972 

    It is interesting to know that on the third day of April, 1836, the Jews were celebrating the feast of the Passover, and were leaving the doors of their homes open for the coming of Elijah. On that day Elijah came, but not to the Jewish homes, but to the Temple in the village of Kirtland near the banks of Lake Erie, to two humble servants of the Lord who were appointed by divine decree to receive him. (Church History and Modern Revelation, 2 vols. (1953), 2:53.)

    Gordon B. Hinckley, 15th President of the Church, 1995–present 

    I thank him and love him [Joseph Smith] for the sealing power of the holy priesthood that makes possible and certain the continuance of the family through eternity. I have said many times that if nothing else came out of all the sorrow and travail and pain of the restoration than the sealing power of the holy priesthood to bind together families forever, it would have been worth all that it has cost. (In Joseph Smith: The Prophet, the Man, ed. Susan Easton Black and Charles D. Tate Jr. (1992), 6.)


    What "keys" did the ancient prophets restore to the earth?

    Various prophets, from Adam to the present dispensation, came to Joseph Smith with keys (see D&C 128:21). John the Baptist brought "the keys of the ministering of angels, and of the gospel of repentance, and of baptism by immersion for the remission of sins" (D&C 13:1). Peter, James, and John restored the keys of their ministry and declared themselves as possessing the keys of the kingdom and of the dispensation of the fulness of times (see D&C 27:12; D&C 128:20). Moses restored "the keys of the gathering of Israel from the four parts of the earth, and the leading of the ten tribes from the land of the north" (D&C 110:11). Elias "committed the dispensation of the gospel of Abraham" (D&C 110:12). Elijah came with "the keys of the power of turning the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to the fathers" (D&C 27:9; D&C 110:13–16). He then told Joseph, "The keys of this dispensation are committed into your hands" (D&C 110:16).

    Is the power to seal on earth and in heaven new to this dispensation?

    The Savior gave Peter "the keys of the kingdom" with authority to "bind on earth . . . [and] in heaven" (Matthew 16:19). The Lord also extended this authority to the rest of the Twelve (see Matthew 18:18). Nephi was also given the sealing authority (see Helaman 10:7). These keys and sealing authority were restored to Joseph Smith and are held today by the President of the Church (see D&C 132:7, 45–46).

    What else did Jesus Christ say when He appeared in the Kirtland Temple that day?

    To Joseph and Oliver, the Lord said, "Behold, your sins are forgiven you; you are clean before me; therefore, lift up your heads and rejoice." He encouraged all to rejoice who had labored to build the temple, promising, "I have accepted this house, and my name shall be here; and I will manifest myself to my people in mercy in this house." He also explained, "the hearts of thousands and tens of thousands shall greatly rejoice in consequence of the blessings which shall be poured out, and the endowment with which my servants have been endowed in this house. And the fame of this house shall spread to foreign lands" (D&C 110:5–10).


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    [1] History of the Church, 1:316.

    [2] Jesus Christ is our Advocate with the Father (see Moroni 7:28; D&C 110:4) and pleads our cause with Him (The Guide to the Scriptures, "Advocate," 12).

    [3] D&C 110:4

    [4] An Old Testament prophet who led the Israelites out of Egyptian bondage. Moses appeared to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery on April 3, 1836, in the temple in Kirtland, Ohio, and conferred on them the keys of the gathering of Israel (see D&C 110: 11; The Guide to the Scriptures, "Moses," 168–169).

    [5] There are several uses for the name or title Elias, including (1) the New Testament (Greek) form of Elijah (see Matthew 17:3–4); (2) as a forerunner, such as John the Baptist (see Matthew 17:12–13); (3) as a restorer, such as John the Revelator (see D&C 77:14) or Gabriel (see Luke 1:11–20; D&C 27:7); as the name of a prophet who lived at the same time as Abraham (see D&C 84:11–13; 110:12; The Guide to the Scriptures, "Elias," 72).

    [6] An Old Testament prophet who returned in the latter days to confer the keys of the sealing power on Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery. The power of Elijah is the sealing power of the priesthood by which things that are bound or loosed on earth are bound or loosed in heaven (see D&C 128: 8–18). Chosen servants of the Lord on earth today have this sealing power and perform the saving ordinances of the gospel for the living and the dead (see D&C 128:8; The Guide to the Scriptures, "Elijah," 72–73).

    [7] D&C 110:11–12, 16.

    [8] Sacred rites and ceremonies. Ordinances consist of acts that have spiritual meanings, such as covenants with the Lord (The Guide to the Scriptures, "Ordinances," 184–85).

    [9] History of the Church, 5:423.

    [10] Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith (1976), 340.

    [11] D&C 110:15.